I went to college in West Virginia when they were blowing the tops off gentle mountains and dumping coal mine waste into pristine streams — all in the name of progress.
Yet, some spots were protected from the blasters and dozers and remain pristine today. Audra State Park is a great example. Wikipedia reports: “The deep pools … have provided generations of campers, local teens and college students a place to swim or work on their tans.”
The strip-miners were told to stay away.
Yet, here in old New England, no one seems to care about state reserves. The environment consultants simply propose black chain-link fences on sensitive reserve boundaries and have at it. If that happened in West Virginia, there would be utter and total devastation.
Surely putting solar panels on the top of Diamond Hill in Ashaway is not quite as bad as blowing its top off. But these panels would be a no-go if in West Virginia because when Nathan Kaye subdivided his property on Diamond Hill in Hopkinton 60 years ago, he set up a marker stone:
“Tomaquag Indian Rock Shelters
Dedicated to the Native Americans
Discovered by Nathan G. Kaye 1957”
He held on to the shelters for many years, finally donating them to the state as a park in the 1980s. The State Properties Committee accepted that responsibility. The Haffenreffer Museum of the American Indian summarized:
“Late Archaic occupants both used the granite ledge as shelter while hunting and foraging for food. … Tomaquag is the best preserved, documented rock shelter in Rhode Island. As such it should be protected for the future when new excavation techniques can increase the amount of data gathered.”
The Indian rock-dwellers are long gone, and Nathan Kaye’s son is no longer alive to protect Tomaquag. Recently, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) has taken a special interest in this historical area. The airport wants its partner, Ameresco, to install hundreds of solar panels directly across from this state-owned site, a vast expanse along a country road in Hopkinton. Its nature would be forever altered, and opportunities for future research would be limited. Can we stop this craziness? And is there an alternative spot, such as along the airport’s runways?
I believe something can be done.
The Hopkinton Planning Board will meet on Jan. 2, 2019, at the Hopkinton Town Hall at 7 p.m. to review a new plan presented by the developer last week. The discussion should include setting the site of the solar panels way back from the Tomaquag Indian Rock Shelters. There is no need to put an ugly chain-link fence right in the midst of Mr. Kaye’s efforts to protect this precious town and state asset.